Friday, August 10, 2007

La Vie en Rose Nectarine and Mango Jam

Rewards are a good thing, however small they may be, and yesterday was one of those days in which I needed to reward myself. At this point in my study career, I can't make up my mind about what's more challenging- choosing MA courses or actually taking them. Due to a lack of interesting 17th century art history courses at my university, I decided to enroll at The University of Amsterdam and explore my options there. Of course, things are never that easy, so yesterday I travelled between two universities to take care of formalities and plan the upcoming semester. After all was said and done and I was on my way home, I started to see the positive side of things. As of next semester, I was going to be spending more time in Amsterdam, studying art, but also taking advantage of my time there to see what the city has to offer foodwise! I live in a suburb just twenty minutes from the city and although I've been there many times, my trips have never really been about food since it's usually the museums I'm after.

To celebrate the upcoming possibilities (expect more Amsterdam food stories in the future!), I walked into an herb shop (not that type of herb) and decided to finally venture into the world of edible flowers. For some reason, the idea of eating flowers never appealed to me. I've seen lots of recipes using rose petals or lavender blooms for example, but however pretty they may look, I just couldn't see the point. If you remember my post about the rosewater chocolate cake, you might be wondering what on Earth I thought rosewater was made from. You see though, it's the flower itself I couldn't imagine eating, not something infused with it...however strange that may sound. I walked into the shop, picked up a bag of dried rose petals and gave it a good sniff. It smelled lovely of course but I kept wondering if this wouldn't be nicer for potpourri. After doing the same with a bag of lavender blooms, I pushed myself in the cashier's direction and payed, quick, before I would be able to change my mind. Now the only question was what to make.

When I was in France a few weeks ago, I purchased some blond cane sugar suitable for making jams. This morning the urge hit me to use the sugar, and my rose petals. The fruit of choice was a few ripe nectarines and an even riper mango. Whenever I embark on making a new recipe, there's always that little element of surprise. Will this work...or in this case...will this taste like perfume? I'm very pleased to inform you that it did work, didn't taste like perfume, and that a simple slice of bread for lunch was turned into a sweet celebration...for my future as a student and foodie in Amsterdam, and for daring to eat a jam made with flowers!

Here's the recipe:

La Vie en Rose Nectarine and Mango Jam
*1 ripe mango (about 600g whole and about 300-350g peeled and chopped)

* 6-7 ripe nectarines (about 900g whole and about 600-650g peeled and chopped)
*500g blond cane sugar, suitable for making jam
*2 tbsps rosewater

*2 tbsps dried rose petals (it is essential that you get petals suitable for consumption and NOT sprayed with chemicals)

First sterilize your jars: wash them out well with hot water and then let them dry in a 140C oven. Leave them in the oven until you are ready to use them. Peel and cut your fruit. To peel the nectarines, simply immerse them in boiling water for 2-3 minutes and then plunge them into cold water. With the point of a knife, make an X on the underside of the fruit and remove the skin. Chop your fruit according to the consitency you want your jam to be. I chopped mine pretty roughly. Put all the ingredients in a large pot, stir well and let cook on medium heat for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let stand for 10 minutes before ladling into two 1/2 liter jars.